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WRC Ogier continues Volkswagen's domination with victory in Rally Poland

LOTOS 71ST RALLY POLAND, June 26-29, 2014
2014 FIA World Rally Championship, round 7

For immediate release
Sunday, June 29th, 2014

OGIER CONTINUES VOLKSWAGEN’S DOMINATION
WITH CONVINCING VICTORY IN RALLY POLAND

· Mikkelsen stays out of trouble to seal second; podium finish for Belgian Neuville
· Estonian Ott Tanak stays well clear of Finn Jari Ketomaa to win WRC 2
· Frenchman Stéphane Lefebvre wins JWRC; Alastair Fisher takes second place


MIKOLAJKI (Poland): Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia kept their composure, stayed clear of trouble and extended their lead in the FIA World Rally Championship with a convincing 1min 07.7sec victory in LOTOS 71st Rally Poland, which finished at Mikolajki in north-eastern Poland on Sunday afternoon.

The French duo won 10 of the 24 special stages and maintained Volkswagen Motorsport’s total dominance of this year’s world rally series.

WRC win number 21 for the Frenchman also lifted him above fellow countryman Didier Auriol into seventh place in the all-time list of WRC event winners behind Sébastien Loeb (78), Marcus Grönholm (30), Carlos Sainz (26), Colin McRae (25), Tommi Mäkinen (24) and Juha Kankkunen (23).

“I think this has been a perfect weekend for me,” said Ogier, who claimed his fifth win from seven starts this season. “It is a big step for the championship. Really nice stages and a high speed all the time. It is not easy to win rallies this season. Andreas (Mikkelsen) was in a strong rhythm, but I knew if I carried this level of attack I would win.”

Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen and co-driver Ole Floene pressurised the French crew for two and a half days before ceding defeat. Mikkelson’s consolation was three stage wins, a convincing 1-2 finish for the Volkswagen Polo R WRC and a useful haul of championship points. “For me it was also a superb weekend,” said Mikkelsen. “This result is very positive for myself and Ole.”

A frantic tussle developed on the final few stages for the remaining podium slot. Belgian Thierry Neuville held the upper hand at the start of the day and, deservedly, fended off a three-way Finnish onslaught to claim third position for the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team.

“It was a good weekend for us and nice to see all three Hyundai cars at the finish,” said Neuville. “I thank the whole team for doing a great job.”

Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen, Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala and Hyundai’s Juho Hänninen finished fourth, fifth and sixth, with Latvala – a winner of two rallies this season in Sweden and Argentina - climbing through the field after delays with broken suspension to set a string of late fastest stage times, but he missed out on fourth by just 0.7sec.

It was a disappointing event for the Citroën Abu Dhabi World Rally Team after Mads Østberg’s retirement from third place on Saturday. The team’s consolation was a gritty fight back by Kris Meeke. The Ulsterman climbed from ninth to seventh on the final day in his DS3 WRC at the expense of Kiwi Hayden Paddon and Norwegian Henning Solberg. The disappointed Czech Martin Prokop rounded off the top 10.

Robert Kubica returned this morning with a set of time penalties after yesterday’s crash and completed his home rally. “Yesterday we were unlucky cutting the corners in the grass to get a fast line and we hit a rock. I want to thank all the fans. They have been great. I also congratulate the organisers. They have done a great job.”

Estonian Ott Tanak cruised to a comfortable victory in WRC 2 and finished 11th overall, 1min 38.2sec ahead of Drive DMACK team-mate Jari Ketomaa. Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al-Rajhi admitted that this was the fastest rally he had ever taken part in and was delighted to finish third and 13th overall.

“This win has given me a lot of confidence and I really enjoyed it,” said Tanak. “Maybe I should have won in Mexico, but I did not have the luck.”

French driver Stéphane Lebebvre fended off the challenge from Ulsterman Alastair Fisher to seal maximum points in the JWRC category.

Sunday – as it happened

Fifty-six of the original 68 starters were granted a start time for the final morning. Elfyn Evans was given the task of opening the road on the re-run of the Milki stage. It was raining quite hard, but grip was surprisingly good as Ogier defended a lead of 61.8sec and a fierce battle waged between Neuvile, Hirvonen, Hänninen and Latvala for third position.

Both Ogier and Mikkelsen were understandably cautious through the special and a third outright fastest time for Latvala was sufficient to push the Finn above Hänninen and into fifth. Neuville ceded a little time to the Finn as well and headed to Kruklanki with a 23.5sec advantage over Latvala and a 10.5sec lead over Hirvonen.

Meeke was also on full song and the second quickest time enabled the Ulsterman to move above Solberg and begin to threaten Paddon’s hold on seventh. Tanak and Ketomaa remained well clear of third-placed Al-Rajhi in WRC 2. Robert Kubica incurred a 2min 20sec penalty for leaving service late after being forced to replace the alternator on his Ford Fiesta.

Rain persisted through Kruklanki, but it failed to prevent Latvala from earning a fourth stage win to move him even closer to fourth-placed Hirvonen. The flying Finn admitted that he had started the stage too aggressively and those vital lost seconds enabled Neuville to consolidate his grip on third position heading to the short super special at Mikolajki Arena and the television Power Stage finale.

Meeke’s impressive morning form had pushed him to within one tenth of a second of seventh place; it was inevitable that the Ulsterman would overtake Paddon on the last two stages.

A giant crowd witnessed the fourth running of the super special around the Mikolajki Arena and Latvala confirmed his fifth stage win, but there were tenths of a second between the leaders. Meeke managed to pass Paddon and take seventh, as the top drivers preserved their tyres for an all out attack on the Power Stage.

Victory on the prestigious final stage and the extra three bonus points fell to Ogier. Latvala tried hard to squeeze passed Hirvonen but missed out on fourth place by just 0.7sec.

LOTOS 71st Rally Poland – positions after SS24 (unofficial @ 13.20hrs):
1. Sébastien Ogier (FRA)/Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 2hr 34min 02.0sec
2. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR)/Ole Floene (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 2hr 35min 09.7sec
3. Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC 2hr 36min 15.5sec
4. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN)/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN) Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2hr 36min 34.4sec
5. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Volkswagen Polo R WRC 2hr 36min 35.1sec
6. Juha Hänninen (FIN)/Tomi Tuominen (FIN) Hyundai i20 WRC 2hr 36min 51.9sec
7. Kris Meeke (GBR)/Paul Nagle (IRL) Citroën DS3 WRC 2hr 38min 29.9sec
8. Hayden Paddon (NZL)/John Kennard (NZL) Hyundai i20 WRC 2hr 38min 34.1sec
9. Henning Solberg (NOR)/Ilka Minor (AUT) Ford Fiesta R5 WRC 2hr 39min 01.0sec
10. Martin Prokop (CZE)/Jan Tomanek (CZE) Ford Fiesta R5 WRC 2hr 40min 13.3sec
11. Ott Tanak (EST)/Raigo Molder (EST) Ford Fiesta R5 2hr 42min 12.3sec
12. Jari Ketomaa (FIN)/Kaj Lindström (FIN) Ford Fiesta R5 2hr 43min 50.5sec

Stage winners
SS1: Sébastien Ogier
SS2: Juho Hänninen
SS3: Sébastien Ogier
SS4: Andreas Mikklesen
SS5: Mads Østberg
SS6: Sébastien Ogier
SS7: cancelled
SS8: cancelled
SS9: Andreas Mikkelsen
SS10: Sébastien Ogier
SS11: Andreas Mikkelsen
SS12: Mads Ostberg
SS13: Sébastien Ogier
SS14: Sébastien Ogier
SS15: Sébastien Ogier
SS16: Sébastien Ogier
SS17: Thierry Neuville
SS18: Jari-Matti Latvala
SS19: Jari-Matti Latvala
SS20: Sébastien Ogier
SS21: Jari-Matti Latvala
SS22 Jari-Matti Latvala
SS23: Jari-Matti Latvala
SS24 Sébastien Ogier

Rally leaders
SS1: Sébastien Ogier
SS2: Andreas Mikkelsen
SS3: Sébastien Ogier
SS4-5: Andreas Mikkelsen
SS6-8: Sébastien Ogier
SS9: Andreas Mikkelsen
SS10-24: Sébastien Ogier

Ends

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Date issued: 29/06/2014

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